Locals are Carnegie Hall bound with ProMusica Arizona


Locals are Carnegie Hall bound with ProMusica Arizona.


By Sondra Barr and Michelle Talsma Everson

Photo by CMQ Photos LLC

In 2003, a group of local musicians and singers met in an Anthem living room with the goal of forming a chorale and orchestra in the North Valley. Now, almost 14 years and more than 150 performances later, ProMusica Arizona (PMAZ) has grown to nearly 100 singers and instrumentalists and is on its way to perform at the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York City on April 24.

PMAZ will perform at Carnegie Hall as part of the Masterwork Series, described as “a festival chorus of singers from across the United States [gathered together] for a three-day residency program culminating in a final performance with a nationally-recognized guest conductor.”

“The performance, with accompaniment by a blue grass combo that includes professionals from Nashville, will include Come Away to the Skies: A High, Lonesome Mass by Dr. Tim Sharp, Executive Director of the American Choral Directors Association, and Dear Appalachia, a three movement tribute to the music and beauty of the Appalachian Mountains composed by Dr. Tim Powell, a colleague of PMAZ’s Artistic Director, Dr. Adam Stich,” according to PMAZ.

Anthem’s Jan Sandoz and John Schwalbach are among the PMAZ performers heading to Carnegie Hall.

Jan, 62, has been involved with ProMusica since she moved to the Anthem Country Club six years ago with her husband. “When my husband and I retired, we moved here. We thought it was a beautiful place and we definitely wanted to get out of the snow and ice in Nebraska,” she says.

“We stopped at the bank to open a checking account and the gal who was working with us had a ProMusica flyer on her desk,” explains Jan about how she first heard about the group. “They were having a concert a few weeks later, so we decided to go to the concert.”

During the performance, it was announced that PMAZ would be holding auditions for a special concert to honor the men and women of 911. Jan auditioned and was selected to perform; she’s been involved with the group ever since. Jan, who has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and education with an emphasis in voice and keyboard, knew that she’d found a welcoming community of singers and musicians in PMAZ after performing with its enthusiastic and talented members.

“Music has been a big part of my life and it meant so much when we moved here to have this ready-made family of people that I got to know right away,” she says.

John, who retired from medicine in 2005, agrees. He ran into a couple of PMAZ participants years ago after moving to Anthem from Wisconsin and it wasn’t long before he became involved with the group.

“I’m not a musician, I’m a physician, but I’ve always liked music. I find it inspiring and interesting. When I think about our group that was started 14 years ago and how it’s grown and grown, it’s just awesome,” he says.

What really pleases Jan about PMAZ is its talented multi-generational membership. She finds inspiration and enjoyment performing with those who’ve a variety of different life experiences under their belts. “Our youngest right now is 15, while our oldest––none of whom will admit how old––will say they’re over 80,” she quips.

As part of PMAZ’s commitment to high quality musical performances, they’re dedicated to an inclusive policy of attracting musicians in every age group with varying skill levels, while providing a challenging but supportive environment to develop talent. According to PMAZ’s website, “Participation offers musicians an educational experience and opportunity to practice with others, perform before a live audience, and receive mentoring and instruction from experienced singers and instrumentalists.”

Indeed, John, who’ll only admit to being over 70, is also struck by the growing size and talent of PMAZ’s participants and he hopes audiences get as much enjoyment out of their performances as he does.

John points out that each PMAZ season, which runs from August through April, offers a diverse assortment of music, from the classics to modern masterpieces. “We change up performances to keep it interesting for the audience,” says John, who counts PMAZ’s production of Sweeney Todd as his favorite to date.

As for their upcoming turn at Carnegie Hall, both Jan and John consider it a great achievement to perform on such a hallowed New York stage.

“It’s a bucket list thing for any singer,” admits Jan, who’s already performed on some of the Valley’s biggest stages. “Performing here at the Orpheum Theater with ProMusica was pretty exciting too, and the Herberger, we’ve done that, and the Scottsdale Performing Arts Center. We’ve done so many of the big venues here in Phoenix, but Carnegie Hall is certainly pretty exciting. When we heard about this opportunity, it was something that I definitely wanted to do,” says Jan, who’s also ecstatic that she can take her spouse too.

“We’re supposed to receive the actual music in January and then we’ll start rehearsing. We have to send in a recording of the group singing it 30 days before the performance so they know we walk into the rehearsals prepared,” explains Jan about the process.

Added to their performance at Carnegie Hall, PMAZ’s next local show will be The Unpredictable Adventures of Henry Hicklebee on April 7 and 8. To learn more about ProMusica Arizona, including local performances, visit pmaz.org.



















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